Crop Biotech Update

Researchers Discover Another Pathway for Amino Acid Production in Plants

January 15, 2014

Scientists from Purdue University have discovered a new microbial-like pathway in plants that produces phenylalanine, an amino acid that is a vital component of proteins in all living organisms. Plants mainly synthesize phenylalanine through a chain of chemical reactions that converts the organic acid arogenate to phenylalanine.

Purdue researchers demonstrated that plants use an alternative pathway found in most microorganisms to make phenylalanine from phenylpyruvate. When the researchers separately blocked each of the two steps in the arogenate pathway in petunia flowers, phenylalanine levels decreased. But when they blocked both steps simultaneously, phenylalanine production spiked. They found that in the alternative pathway, phenylpyruvate is converted into phenylalanine by taking a nitrogen group from tyrosine, another essential amino acid.

See Purdue University's news release https://ag.purdue.edu/agcomm/Pages/News.aspx.